The resurrection of Pierce Brosnan is complete.
Just six years ago, his career was in disarray and his personal life shattered by the death of his wife, Cassandra Harris, of ovarian cancer. He wasn’t sure his life or career would survive.
“There were times I felt like I was on the floor, gutted and empty,” a suddenly reflective Brosnan said during a recent interview in his Los Angeles hotel suite.
“And then there comes a revelation that you must not fight it, that you must live in that moment and not panic. You must live empty and gutted and have the confidence that a breeze of life will come back in and save you.”
Even Brosnan never imagined what would happen next. That breeze, which began with a small role in the 1993 comedy hit “Mrs. Doubtfire,” was upgraded to a full-force hurricane that has left him standing tall at the top of his game.
With the biggest-grossing James Bond film of all time under his belt - “GoldenEye” has topped $375 million at the worldwide box office - he is starring in the big-budget volcano disaster film “Dante’s Peak,” which opened last week, and has a full slate of film roles scheduled over the next two years, including the next Bond flick.
His personal life is on a high, as well, with a new baby boy in the nursery at his Malibu home (Dylan Thomas was born Jan. 13; mom is actress Keely Shaye-Smith of “Unsolved Mysteries”). Brosnan and the baby’s mother apparently have no plans to marry, but Brosnan insists they are happy with the arrangement.
On top of everything else going right for him, Brosnan, at 43, appears to be getting better-looking, if that is possible.
His body has thickened a bit (his own words), his face is more lined than during his smooth-as-silk “Remington Steele” days and he shows up for an interview with a sexy, two-day growth. The guy’s got manly man written all over him.
“You know, I was looking at myself on the screen last night and I noticed a bit of age in my face and a little weight to me, and that’s great,” the actor said.
“Although my boyish looks got me the ‘Remington Steele’ job on TV, it got in the way after the show went off the air. People said I was too pretty and couldn’t be taken seriously. I had tried so hard to be the suave, sophisticated, witty guy on that show that I created this monster for myself. It became a trap.
“But I’m feeling more mature, more secure more confident now, and I think that is reflected in my looks. I like how I look now.”
The Irish-born actor, who moved with his family to London when he was 11, began his professional life on the British stage, but he said he always dreamed of working in the United States. A year after making waves in the 1981 miniseries “The Manions of America,” he got the “Remington Steele” role, which inspired some pundits to proclaim him the “next Cary Grant.”
Two years later, Bond producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli decided that Brosnan was the next Roger Moore and asked him to star in the new Bond film. Brosnan tried to get released from his NBC contract but the network, thinking it could take advantage of Brosnan’s increased visibility as the next Bond, immediately renewed “Steele” for another year.
That renewal cost Brosnan the Bond role because his schedule no longer had time for a feature film. Although he initially was bitter toward the network for sabotaging his film career, he realized it was a blessing in disguise.
“People don’t know this, but I gave out a secret sigh of relief when it fell through,” Brosnan said last year upon release of “GoldenEye.”
Brosnan said he felt he wasn’t mature enough or equipped to play Bond at that point in his career. But, by the time of “GoldenEye,” he was ready.
“I felt by then that Bond was mine for the taking,” he said. “I remember stepping onto that set the first day and thinking that I had every right to be there. I was a good actor and I had the confidence to do the job. Nobody could take it away from me.”
When the movie shot through the proverbial roof, Brosnan said, he felt his entire career had been validated.
“It was an affirmation of one’s confidence and self as an actor,” he said. “It was a wonderful sense of achievement and quiet contentment.
“I realize, of course, that I have greater responsibilities now than I did before because of the Bond success. The stakes have gone up. People are watching what I do now. I have a greater responsibility to the Bond fans and to the rest of my fans.
“I also have a greater responsibility to myself, to make sure I take advantage of this opportunity. I want to work in the best projects possible with the best people possible.”
First out of the gate was a role in Barbra Streisand’s “The Mirror Has Two Faces,” followed by Tim Burton’s “Mars Attacks!” The role of a volcanologist in “Dante’s Peak” will be followed by a remake of the 1968 Steve McQueen movie “The Thomas Crown Affair.”
In “Dante’s Peak,” Brosnan, a member of the U.S. Geological Survey, is sent to a small town at the base of a mountain in the northern Cascades (actually, the film was shot in Wallace, Idaho) to determine if a volcano that has been dormant for 7,000 years is suddenly growing restless.
This being a disaster film, the volcano does erupt, and Brosnan, the town’s mayor (Linda Hamilton) and the rest of the 7,000 inhabitants have to escape the coming debacle.
“I have loved disaster films since ‘The Towering Inferno’ and ‘The Poseidon Adventure,’ and the success of ‘Twister’ only confirms that people still love these kinds of movies,” Brosnan said.
“When they work, they are a great ride,” he added. “People just love seeing other people in jeopardy.
“It is the same fascination as driving by road accidents. You swear you are not going to be one of those people who look, but you look anyway.
“You look to see the blood, the mayhem or whatever. You look because it fascinates you to see your fellow human beings in peril.”
Brosnan has three older children, ages 13-25. The two oldest came as part of the marriage to Harris (they were hers), and the couple had one of their own.
“Sean (the 13-year-old) was a great product of our love and life,” he said. “We had reached a point in our lives when we could afford a child. But I was busy with work, and I was away much of the time, on the career treadmill. I think I became a better father later, as a single parent, but I was away working a lot in the beginning.
“That may have been one reason why I secretly wanted to be a father again. I wanted to get it right this time. But there was another reason.
“Death and dying leaves such a mark on you, and I felt that if I could hold a new life in my arms, it would complete the circle. Keely and I never discussed having a child, and when she told me she was pregnant, I was happy. The whole experience has been awe-inspiring.”
Brosnan said the baby and the career successes have made this a great time for him, a time that he cherishes. It also has been a time to reflect upon what led him to this point.
“I am weathered but still standing, and that’s what counts,” he said, smiling. “Some amazing things have happened to me, and I can’t help but think that somehow Cass had something to do with it. I believe she was up there moving the pieces for me.”
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